In the first few days of my adventures to mingle with those most people wouldn't consider, I am proving a few things I knew all along. That people do judge others by their appearance. A phrase I heard the other day is true, "Forget to shave for a few days and you look like a bum. And as I forget to shave each day during my research I am finding more and more people willing to tell me that. My wife cannot stop complaining that I look like, in her words, "A dirt ball." She refuses to be seen in public with me and gets madder by the day that I am "letting myself go." But that's the point, and a very valid one at that. She isn't alone, nearly everyone who knows me feels the same way, and only a few actually get what I am doing. In the story that follows this one, I have explained what I am working on, and if you think I look like a dirt ball in this photo, check the picture that follows this entry. (I am getting there.)
So in the first days of this research, I am finding members of politer society taking a wider birth around me when we pass on sidewalks, and I do get the stares from cleaner people in stores, and the other day while in the post office, a proper looking, younger woman stood behind me at a table, waiting to seal her packages until I was finished taping up mine. There was plenty of room for both of us to stand next to each other but I could tell that she wasn't comfortable doing that.
And I know it wasn't because I smelled bad because I haven't left that part of my grooming out, and don't intend to until the weather is warmer and I can stay on the streets longer. (My wife has threatened to leave me out there if I take my research to that level.) But oh well, I have work to do.
When I was a police officer I would see guys like me, and hope that if I did have to deal with them, I wouldn't have to pat them down or search them, and hope that if I did they hadn't peed their pants or something worse. Some of them smelled as if they had.
But I have promised those around me and worried about me now that I will be conservative with my props, I won't go that far.
Cops have similar phrases to what my wife now thinks of my new look, the one's I worked with, including myself, often referring to people who look like I do now as Dirt Bags, Scroates, and other less than flattering names. And I will admit that it isn't easy for me to still think of some of them as much more than that. And I am actually looking forward to the encounters I will have with police officers who view me at face value, those who think I am just some other scrotum posing as a full bodied human being. I do not expect them to be too polite, especially those who won't know that I am not only a former officer myself, but a retired police chief.
They will judge me by my appearance and thus probably treat me in kind. But that's okay, that's what I'm looking for. Natural reactions to people they view as suspicious, or any they may think they are above, or who need to be watched.
The truth is, I am physically transforming myself into such a person. Many of "us" out there are up to no good. At least nothing that benefits others, and in many cases, someone who does pose a threat to the health and safety of others.
On this blog I will continue to update my adventures and share the experiences of my latest book project that will allow readers to peek deep into this element of society, and hopefully learn something about those people who annoy them by asking for money and favors. The people no one wants living next door, or standing next to them in a post office.